Over 400 Former US Attorneys, DOJ Leaders and Attorneys, and Judges Urge President Trump to Release Vulnerable Individuals from Federal Custody to Avoid Deadly Outbreak of COVID-19
In a letter from 405 former DOJ leaders, attorneys, and federal judges , including 35 U.S. Attorneys, these criminal justice leaders urge President Trump to take rapid action to release medically at risk individuals from federal custody to protect them and our communities from the catastrophic spread of COVID-19 in federal facilities. The letter calls on President Trump to use his executive power to commute sentences for vulnerable individuals, urge policies to limit the number of new people entering federal custody, and secure emergency funding for reentry services and support of state and local efforts to similarly address the spread of COVID-19 in custodial settings.
The signatories to the letter, like other criminal justice leaders in recent weeks, came together in response to the current public health emergency. These former prosecutors, attorneys, judges and law enforcement leaders stressed the immense vulnerability of incarcerated and detained populations to the deadly COVID-19 virus due to dense living conditions, poor access to quality healthcare, and the increasing elderly population behind bars.
In the letter, they urge the President to support efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 among those held in federal custody – as well as the many individuals who work in these facilities and return to their community at the end of each shift – by:
- Using his executive power to sensibly commute sentences for the elderly, those who are medically vulnerable and individuals who have already served most of their sentence, provided that they do not pose a serious risk to public safety;
- Encouraging and establishing policies to promote the limitation of new custody to only individuals who present a serious and demonstrable risk to public safety;
- Creating a bipartisan emergency advisory group to quickly guide this process and ensure the most vulnerable are protected;
- Urging the Bureau of Prisons to take measures to ensure correctional staff receive regular testing as well as health care support, including full pay if they become sick with the virus; and
- Supporting emergency funding for prevention, treatment, reentry support, and incentivising state and local governments to address the public health concerns in their own jails and prisons.
“We, as former United States Attorneys, federal judges, Assistant United States Attorneys, and DOJ lawyers and leaders, understand the obligation to protect the safety and wellbeing of everyone in our community….To prevent the rapid spread of COVID-19 in facilities under your federal control, we urge you to start commuting sentences immediately.”
NSWCCL recently issued statements regarding COVID-19 concerns and the NSW prison/detention population -